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Samsung Chromebook Series 5 Review

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the that-could-have-gone-better dept.

Chrome 136

snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Neil McAllister takes an in-depth look at the Samsung Chromebook Series 5 3G and finds the device comparatively lackluster. 'The Chromebook is lightweight and inexpensive, and it offers a full-featured Web browsing experience. But its low-end hardware, lack of versatility, and primitive support for commonplace computing tasks such as printing, file management, networking, and media playback make it a poor choice for everyday use, particularly in a business setting,' McAllister writes. 'All in all, the Samsung Series 5 is an average-quality netbook with a large screen and a higher-than-average price tag, while Chrome OS itself feels more like a proof-of-concept project whose time has not yet come.'"

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136 comments

This just in! (4, Funny)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#36756334)

No shit

Re:This just in! (4, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36756470)

"feels more like a proof-of-concept project whose time has not yet come"

Welcome to the GoogleDome.

Re:This just in! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36757068)

U Da BullFrog !! U Da BullFrog !!

Never understand a word you say !!

Re:This just in! (2)

jo42 (227475) | more than 2 years ago | (#36757736)

Welcome to the GoogleDome.

Two products enter. Zero useful products leave.

Re:This just in! (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#36759746)

I just don't get what they are thinking. At $100-$150? yeah I could see people willing to deal with the limitations to have a "browser in a box" but $500? WTF? you can often find Atom netbooks for $250 or less, and I've seen really nice AMD netbooks for around $330. Who in their right mind would pay the price of TWO netbooks for one that is crippled and doesn't do even half of what a full netbook does?

I just don't understand what they think will make it sell at THAT price. i have played with the Athlon Neo netbooks and they do 1080P over HDMi, get good battery life, are real peppy, and can even do some halfway decent gaming with those Radeon chips. Sure it won't play Crysis but I played the original Bioshock on it and the customer that owns it plays WoW on it all the time. What would make this something worth that amount of money?

I bet if they don't seriously come down on the price there is gonna be a warehouse somewhere just filled with these things gathering dust as I can't see people passing up fully featured netbooks to pay more for less.

Got it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36756440)

A device that does not do anything unique running an "operating system" that barely does anything at all gets a lackluster review. In other news: 2 + 2 continues to equal 4.

Re:Got it (1)

Perp Atuitie (919967) | more than 2 years ago | (#36757104)

And you can't install Linux or some other OS, I understand. Correct? If so the thing makes no sense at all. You can get a full featured netbook with actual apps and the browser of your choice. What's the CB got to make up for that?

Re:Got it (3, Interesting)

earls (1367951) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758500)

I have identified the following benefits.

A great performance to price ratio. There is no equally spec'd Windows laptop at the same price.

Simplicity. I understand you can pare down any OS to the necessary essentials... that's exactly what Google did so the consumer did not have to.

Unique "actual apps" that require Windows are actually far and few between. The behemoth - MS Office, Games, Image/Video Editing, CAD, IDEs. Now, I understand everyone is 5up4r l33t and needs the best of the best, properly licensed, most resource intensive "actual app" available to mediate their genius into the world, but there are webapps that already exist that fills those roles. And I'll tell you from experience, the WebApps might not do a lot of this, and won't do a lot of that, but the fact that they exist at all and are marginally useful is an accomplishment in its own right.

Subscriptions. For schools especially... many of whom are already on Google Apps for Education. Small businesses with no IT.

Security. Students and employees won't be doing anything outside of the browser. Remote wipe.

Privacy. Haha, no, I'm just kidding.

Re:Got it (2)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758790)

"No similarly specced Windows laptop at the same price"? I brought a faster laptop (Acer, dual Athlon at 2.2GHz, 3GB of RAM) for $500 in 2009. Now I'm supposed to pay $500 for a system with netbook-class hardware, and be thankful for it?

Re:Got it (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 2 years ago | (#36761870)

Unique "actual apps" that require Windows are actually far and few between. The behemoth - MS Office

MS Office is "unique" in what sense?

Right tool for the job... (1)

ctrimm (1955430) | more than 2 years ago | (#36756444)

I use my Cr48 every day at home. I can code on it and do what I need to do. I have learned to operate with minimal file downloads and don't have anything to print. It does what I need it to. Right tools for the job and all that...

Re:Right tool for the job... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36756544)

You can use google cloud print if you have another computer at home with a printer

Re:Right tool for the job... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36756606)

The issue with this "Chromebook", from my perspective, is that it manages to be as or more expensive(and no better in terms of battery life or weight/build quality) than an equivalent netbook/cheapie laptop.

If I can save money by buying something else and just running Chrome in full screen on Ubuntu or something, or don't get it.

I find Google's experiment conceptually interesting, and its continued evolution will be something to see; but in its present state(while I wouldn't turn a free one down) it doesn't seem to be worth any premium over whatever netbook is winning the knife-fight-in-a-telephone booth on price/performance today, just running a web browser most of the time.

Re:Right tool for the job... (2)

xSauronx (608805) | more than 2 years ago | (#36756682)

Im honestly not sure why theyre bothering. Android is already a well-known product with lots of support, applications and users, and is itself based on linux. Id much rather see them implement controls and whatever else they think makes chrome special into android, along with a good browser with features. It bugs me that chrome is such a good browser, and that they have an OS based on it, but that the stock android browser is so mediocre.

Cant see myself ever wanting a chrome book. An android notebook like the transformer? Maybe, if the app support improved and a few key features im interested in got added. I love my android phone and rooted nook color.

Re:Right tool for the job... (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36757072)

I'll be interested to see how they eventually deal with this one. If I had to bet, I'd wonder if they might take advantage of the fact that Android is architecturally 'I-Can't-believe-It's-Not-Java'(and apparently neither can Oracle...) and certainly no less suitable for browser embedding than their NaCL experiments are.

For devices with larger screens, enough RAM for serious, conventional, multitasking, etc. they could largely take ChromeOS as a starting point, use the chrome HTML/JS stuff for both web/webapps and to implement the various home screens/application launchers/ and other quasi 'window manager' stuff that Android uses, but have the full ability to run Android applications either as small elements plugged into larger pages or fullscreened. They'd need to give a bit of thought to a good mechanism for allowing web pages to modify/exchange data with their embedded Android elements, and vice-versa; but I could see it working pretty well.

Re:Right tool for the job... (3, Interesting)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758342)

Im honestly not sure why theyre bothering. Android is already a well-known product with lots of support, applications and users, and is itself based on linux. Id much rather see them implement controls and whatever else they think makes chrome special into android, along with a good browser with features.

I'm not sure why people don't get this - if they can get you to do everything through Chrome, they have 100% of your information. That's why they do this.

It's really got nothing to do with Linux. If you're using Android, you can turn the network off and they've lost their access to you. With Chrome, you and your eyeballs are a captive audience, 100% of the time.

I fully expect to see a chrome phone at some point, once they feel like Android has penetrated the market to its fullest potential.

Re:Right tool for the job... (1)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758960)

I'm not sure why people don't get this - if they can get you to do everything through Chrome, they have 100% of your information. That's why they do this.

Sure, OK, no argument there. Why is that a problem?

Re:Right tool for the job... (1)

Celarent Darii (1561999) | more than 2 years ago | (#36759112)

Well it pretty much excludes its use in any business or government environment. The whole reason you don't have gmail in business or government is that much of internal correspondence and documents have to stay INTERNAL to the organization. Putting it on the cloud somewhere means you can't audit the emails, not to mention that most companies just don't want their private workings available to a competitor.

Chrome OS demands that your information is in the hands of someone else - which is precisely the antithesis of security (where your data is YOUR data).

Re:Right tool for the job... (1)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 2 years ago | (#36759230)

I think that the enormous success of Google Apps in the enterprise and government spaces kind of disproves your point. Google claims to have already over 3 million businesses using Google Apps, and some of those are pretty big enterprises. Moving to ChromeOS isn't changing what's already there in the cloud.

Then, if you really want avoid putting your mail and documents in the public cloud, you can still give your employees access to Outlook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. via Citrix Receiver on a ChromeOS machine. It integrates into the browser pretty nicely, each Citrix app in its own tab, and pretty darned responsive, if the demos are to be believed.

Re:Right tool for the job... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36757338)

Yes, but for the price could you get a large screen, light laptop/netbook for the same price that has a 10-hour battery life?

A large portion of people have laptops that they never do anything offline on. These people are who Chromebooks are for. If you do a lot of offline work, you're not the target market.

Re:Right tool for the job... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36757378)

I don't understand the point of this, with that pricetag. If it was $99, maybe I'd get it. I just bought a 14 inch laptop with 4 gigs of ram, i5 processor, 640 gb hdd, nvidia gpu, etc for $499. It has a 6.5 hour battery life, and I am sure if I stuck an SSD in it, it would resume instantly as well. I do not understand this market, and I don't understand the netbook market. Full blown laptops can be the same size and offer you full operating systems at the same price.

I could see this as maybe a 7-9 inch ipad type machine, but not a 12.1 inch full blown laptop build. Whoever pays $499 for this overpriced shit is a sucker.

Re:Right tool for the job... (2)

Necroman (61604) | more than 2 years ago | (#36757838)

Chromebooks, at this point, don't seem to be targeted at anyone that reads slashdot. Well, maybe only if it's an IT manager.

I have one of the series 5 laptops and I've play around with it a bit and it has its ups and downs. I could easily see giving this laptop to my mom so I wouldn't have to deal with windows updates and antivirus software. It also blocks her from breaking anything on the laptop (software wise).

I could see some specific cases in business where non-techy people need internet access with not installed apps. This is an easy to manage solution for IT managers. But you lose all flexibility that you get from a Windows Domain.

I will agree, this laptop seems like an experience at this point. With the consumer model I only get 100MB per month of free Verizon coverage, which is nothing (that could easily be eaten up with a single Youtube video). I could be plans that give me more bandwidth, but it's not worth it for me. So I'll just stick with Wifi.

Re:Right tool for the job... (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758630)

Remember when Google said, "oh, you know that offline support for Gmail and Google Docs? We're stopping it. Should have something to replace it in a few months."

An IT manager that went with a Chromebook solution for their business in that situation would be calling themselves a "consultant" and trying to sell hand-woven laptop cozies on Etsy today.

Cloud works if you are running your own cloud. A thin client to enterprise-hosted virtual PCs and web apps? Maybe. A thin client to... the web? For business? Nuh uh.

Re:Right tool for the job... (1)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758970)

Google's pricing model for businesses is pretty attractive, since it includes the support contract. It gives me the feeling that the corporate domain is really their primary intended market for ChromeOS, particularly the ChromeOS desktops (which I believe are or will be only available to businesses, at least initially).

There is still some support for businesses to get custom apps running on these things. There's obviously the custom web-app, and beyond that, there's Citrix Receiver support. You can run Microsoft Office on a ChromeBook if you really want to, or any other Windows app, although I wonder at the performance of it. It'd have to use NaCL to get reasonable performance...

Re:Right tool for the job... (1)

Skinny Rav (181822) | more than 2 years ago | (#36759224)

Chromebooks, at this point, don't seem to be targeted at anyone that reads slashdot. Well, maybe only if it's an IT manager.

Why? I read slashdot for some time now, I am not an IT manager and I would buy a Chromebook gladly - if not for the issue mentioned by the GP: Chromebooks are more expensive now than a comparable netbook/cheap laptop.

I own an Aspire One d522 and the only time when I am not using a browser is when I play Diablo II (on Battle.net) or Warhammer Online. So yes, it is useless for me if the net is down. I use gmail and google docs and use my main pc for serious work. The netbook is for browsing and watching VOD. There's Debian on a second partition too, but it is a barebone xfce install with chromium.

So I could replace it with a chromebook gladly - less hassle with updates and everything - if the price was significantly lower.

I think the Chromebook has its niche and a chance. (4, Interesting)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 2 years ago | (#36760046)

The issue with this "Chromebook", from my perspective, is that it manages to be as or more expensive(and no better in terms of battery life or weight/build quality) than an equivalent netbook/cheapie laptop.

I personally think the Chromebook along with the Google Online Cloudstuff has its niche already and stands a real chance at becoming the prime choice for household computing.

The first Chromebook from Samsung weighs 1.4 Kg and is roughly 2cm thick, if not thinner. It fits squarely into the MacBook Air carry-around pattern, whilst costing a fifth.
For those who do 95% of their stuff online and know so little about computers they couldn't find a directory on an Thumbdrive - even with OS X Finder in 'stupid-mode', let alone know where to plug it in and how to unmount it before removal (99.999% of all users), the chromebook is a viable every-day computer.

If has the form, size and weight factor of a sleek MacBook Air, costs a fraction of that, has above 8 hours of uptime on battery, has zero hassles with installation and setup, needs no worrying or even knowing about such things as backup, software installation, sane security awareness and data-migrate-ability. All you need to know is how to log into something on the web, which most people do know nowadays.

For those who know what they're doing it's nearly trivially easy to hack a bash CLI onto it, with all the goodies you want.

Optical media aside - which we all agree will become full-scale obsolete any time soon - this would actually be a replacement I'd get my spouse if her iBook G4 breaks. She mostly surfs, does email and sometimes writes a letter. Nothing you can't do with the Google stuff. DVDs are the aforementioned exception to that, but as I see it Netflix, Lovefilm et al are standing ready to solve that even for the very latest of adopters.

And let's face it: I - and I gather most of you too - would take a Linux+Web based Google lockin over an Apple or MS lockin any time. No?

Re:I think the Chromebook has its niche and a chan (1)

Targon (17348) | more than 2 years ago | (#36760814)

While there is clearly a market for "premium" items that cost a LOT, the non-Apple world can get a decent laptop for the $500 range. Yes, that may not have the aluminum case, but it also is a fully functional laptop that has full support for Flash, and ALL normal Windows based applications will run on it. There are also new platforms that are just starting to show up, like the AMD A4 and A6 based that are also starting to show up in very thin laptops that get acceptable graphics performance that will accelerate Firefox or IE 9, plus other applications that are starting to use the graphics power to improve performance.

The competition isn't all about what Apple puts out, it is what you see in the market in general, and with the economy still in the toilet, people are less inclined to spend money on products of questionable value to them.

Re:Right tool for the job... (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 2 years ago | (#36756672)

How are you doing programming on it? I'm actually curious. I've considered a chromebook as a travel laptop (long battery life, fast boot, and small size being my primary criteria), but I have to be able to edit plain text files, preferably stored locally. Doing it through ssh would be an option, though an inferior one. I tried chromium os out in virtualbox and couldn't find a way to do what i needed effectively. So how do you actually get any work done on the thing?

Re:Right tool for the job... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36756782)

Why http://kodingen.com/ of course.

Re:Right tool for the job... (1)

ctrimm (1955430) | more than 2 years ago | (#36756966)

I use a web app called ShiftEdit [shiftedit.net] .

I'm a web developer (I mainly build web apps), so everything I work on is hosted on a remote server. Saving and opening can take a little longer online than on your computer, but it's honestly not too bad.

Other than images, the personal site I'm working on I have created completely in ShiftEdit.

Re:Right tool for the job... (0)

gregmoore (1781142) | more than 2 years ago | (#36756936)

My cr-48 was collecting dust until I found that putting Windows 7 on it made it a lot more useful. Of course, it's not breaking any speed records...

Re:Right tool for the job... (0)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758042)

My ThinkPad R60 with Win7 was collecting dust until I found putting Linux Mint on it made it a lot more useful.

Bullshit (4, Informative)

Howard Roark (13208) | more than 2 years ago | (#36756492)

I've had my Samsung Chromebook for about a week now and I absolutely love it. It brings an immediacy to the 'net that I have never experienced with any other computer. True, it's not good at the "heavy lifting" you often need to perform with a "real" computer, but compared to the utterly pitiful web experience you get with an iPad, it can't be beat.

Re:Bullshit (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36756774)

You paid more (list price) than an iPad and the only winning comparison you can make is that it's a better web experience (which I don't believe)? I'm not sure what's up with all the bunny ears, but gotta tell you it sounds like it "sucks".

Re:Bullshit (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36757364)

It has a keyboard. I can view all web content.

iPad can't.

What else does an iPad really do beside poorly browse the web?

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36757772)

The iPad has a keyboard. If you want a physical one then use bluetooth. It doesn't have flash (which I don't install on my PCs anyway) and nothing of value was lost. Claiming to not know about (the over 90,000) apps for the iPad then you're a troll or in the wrong forum.

Re:Bullshit (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36757984)

Indeed, why would you pay more for a Chromebook when you could pay more to get a physical keyboard for your iPad?

Re:Bullshit (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758094)

But, what do those apps do that can't be accomplished with a web app in ChromeOS? Not to mention the web is still mostly designed for a mouse/keyboard based browser. Also, Chrome browser supports thousands of extensions that extend the functionality of the browser itself. You may love your i{ad and that's cool but it isn't just automatically better than a Chromebook.

FWIW, this is posted via my Xoom. I guess we all win.

Re:Bullshit (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758580)

It won't run Netflix yet. It doesn't do java or the (admittedly about to be deprecated) silverlight. It really doesn't do all the web.

I was on the CR-48 pilot. ChromeOS is a nice thought experiment, but... no. This one is going down with Google Wave and Google TV.

Re:Bullshit (4, Informative)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#36757468)

So... you paid (minimum) $430 for a 12.1" netbook that only lets you use Chrome and not do anything else with your system when you could have gotten one of these [dell.com] for less money, and gotten a system that's just as portable (I have been shopping for laptop cases... they don't make many 12.1" laptop bags, so you're probably buying one for a 13.3" screen anyway), has a better processor, a significantly larger hard drive, and comes with a stock Ubuntu preinstalled (to say nothing of the 1 year NBD onsite warranty)? If you got the 3G version that is *slightly* more understandable, but not really when you consider that you can get a USB data stick for less than the price difference between the two, and you're at the same place of needing to buy a data plan for it.

I loathe Ubuntu... the first thing I did was wipe the hard drive and install my distro of choice. But even then, I think I got much better value for money than you did.

Chrome OS = thin client all over again (5, Insightful)

eobanb (823187) | more than 2 years ago | (#36756514)

Remember when thin clients were all the rage, guys? Remember Bill Joy telling us the network is the computer? It was true!

Well, kinda...

As it turns out, internet access isn't ubiquitous, at least not yet. In the age of 4G smartphones and tablets we'd like to think it's ubiquitous, but you really only notice that it's not when you have a system like a Chrome OS laptop that literally does not function at all without a network connection.

Even if it were available all the time (airplanes, underground, in the wilderness) it's still not fast enough. And even if it were fast enough, presently we have to deal with usage caps.

Chrome OS is an idea way too far ahead of its time. Right now there's no reason to ditch native software that works perfectly well.

Re:Chrome OS = thin client all over again (1)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 2 years ago | (#36756698)

At the same time, with so many services revolving around network services there is an argument to be made for an almost thin client. A pudgy client? Thin client with a bit of padding.

After all, Facebook and G+ and e-mail and a dozen other things that eat up a huge chunk of time are not much good when there is no network. So a clent that caters to those kinds of services is going to essentially be a thin client anyways. Build in some local caching so that things automatically sync when the network becomes available again. Some space to keep a selection of music and movies local. Perhaps the music streaming service keeps a few hours of music local and replaces it from the cloud as it gets played.

Re:Chrome OS = thin client all over again (1)

luther349 (645380) | more than 2 years ago | (#36757480)

so in otherwords a netbook with any other os and a small ssd oh wait eepc did that with there entire surf line.

Re:Chrome OS = thin client all over again (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36756858)

While the 'pure' thin client is largely a loss outside of certain slightly paranoid corporate setups(even there, the "thin" client pretty much has to be a full PC running some lockdown OS, just so that you can replace your Citrix/etc. clients to keep up with protocol version churn...); you'd have to torture the truth pretty hard to argue that "the network" hasn't made some significant enroachments into "the computer".

The "thin" as in "For reasons best known to ourselves, we decided to use an expensive, slow, high-latency bus to transfer the contents of the framebuffer to the screen" client isn't doing so hot; but practically every corporate desktop boots, authenticates against a remote server, connects to a fileserver, and spends the rest of the day sending and receiving TPS reports through the mailserver. At home, the authentication is local, and only geeks have fileservers for their home directories; but a massive percentage of the use time consists of local software chewing on data going to/from the internet.

Architecturally, with local storage and CPU time so damn cheap, and administration of any level of strictness from "anarchic" to "Orwellian" getting easier over time, the notion of doing pure "framebuffer one way, peripherals the other way" 'thin client' computing requires some rather labored justification(and just add the desire for peripherals that aren't mice and keyboards to the mix... That fucking sucks); but the number of minutes that Joe User would spend in front of a computer, be it ever so well equipped with local software, that lacks internet access before wandering off to check his twitbook on some smartphone that at least has internet access has plummeted.

Re:Chrome OS = thin client all over again (3, Insightful)

grantek (979387) | more than 2 years ago | (#36757458)

I think the problem is that to have a slick, user-friendly UI that doesn't get in your way with latency caused by inadequate performance, you need enough performance that doing thick-client stuff is trivial, and there's no reason not to include it.

I think if you used the SSD to hold a fairly large cache of applications, you could practically work "in the cloud" a bit like distributed RCSes (eg. git) do, and re-sync everything when the laptop can connect. You can still have backgrounded automatic update of the cached apps, and you can manage the cache completely automatically (or allow more power to users to "pin" data and apps to the cache). I haven't used ChromeOS before, but if it's on its way to working like that (TFA suggests it isn't there yet), it would be workable for some use cases.

I'd also like to see some open-source web apps rise to fame, I'm sure most companies deploying these things would be happy to contract with Google, but for government work or running a small company that competes with Google, I'd prefer to recompile the OS to point at a privately-managed cloud (which would probably be as simple as a couple of clustered web servers and maybe a DR site)

Re:Chrome OS = thin client all over again (0)

luther349 (645380) | more than 2 years ago | (#36757466)

its not even ahed of its just a bad idea from day one. i have been saying sence my very first test of chromeos it would be dead from the gate just like gos was.

Literally? You keep using that word. (4, Informative)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 2 years ago | (#36757900)

Chrome OS laptop that literally does not function at all without a network connection.

According to many sources, handily compiled in the Chrome Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] , you can edit docs, view pics, and playback media offline.

I have no idea why people keep repeating the 'does not work at all without teh internets' meme

Re:Literally? You keep using that word. (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#36759170)

Because if you forgot to load up a doc before you left home, how can you edit it?

Yes some stuff works offline but it's not long before you hit a wall.

Re:Literally? You keep using that word. (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 2 years ago | (#36759378)

Yes some stuff works offline but it's not long before you hit a wall.

Well done for not repeating the 'does not work at all without teh internets' meme.

Re:Literally? You keep using that word. (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#36761608)

Well, the OS itself supports full offline operation. However, you need to be using an offline-capable application (ie HTML5). Very little is written to work well offline, including Google's applications. So, this is the biggest gap - it isn't the OS so much as the applications.

Now, the fact that not even Google is investing in offline capabilities for its cloud apps might be a red flag. On the other hand, Chrome OS really strikes me as a 95% solution, and it is a good solution if you can live with the limitations.

My only real complaint is the price. I shouldn't be paying more for ChromeOS than I would for comparable hardware running Windows/etc. The price has to at least be equivalent, if not cheaper.

Chrome does have real benefits for small businesses - you get all the features of a good enterprise workstation (encryption, backup, cheap provisioning, etc). As long as you don't do work on airplanes/etc you're probably fine. Also, if you can tether to a phone or use the built-in 3G then you're also fine. In fact, the cost of a data plan for a ChromeOS laptop probably is cheaper than what it costs to properly support a Windows PC.

Re:Chrome OS = thin client all over again (1)

Super Dave Osbourne (688888) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758058)

I completely agree, native software is in my hands, I can re/move it whenever/however I want. I don't like giving up power to the man.

Re:Chrome OS = thin client all over again (2)

fermion (181285) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758164)

I don't know if it is the same thing. Years ago I had to decide whether to spec a vertical application with a unix server of local window machines. The cost for the real Unix licensees, and machines to run them were too expensive. Home built Intel machine with MS software was cheaper, so we simple had a peer to peer, with one heft peer running the software. Years later when I was working on another project the world was different. MS was the dominant provider, There was no way run MS Windows on a truly cheap machine, and MS had not put in all the cool remote administrative stuff. In that case the contractors, trying to maximize the cost of MS products, did give us a hybrid solution. It was one of those things that did not make sense, and would never pay for itself, but that was the culture of overspending on IT.

Later MS would not push thin client as it could sell other tools that made administration very easy. Of course now *nix has taken over servers, so we do have thin client in terms of the web, where much processing goes on in other machines. The problem we still have is MS and other proprietary licenses that eat up a huge part of any budget and invite the BSA to take over your firm, not to mention hard to manage machines.

For companies with hundreds of worker drones, this chromebook will eventually solve many problems. Truly disposable machines. No way to frak local configuration and lose a work day because there is no local config. Yes your servers have to be good, but firms sells servcie with 5 nines uptime.How much time is wasted trying to keep MS software up and running on a thousand distributed machines, to keep employees from installing crap promising to show prom that really is intended to destroy entire networks. 25 years ago many firms abandoned unix and high level functionality because the MS crap was good enough. I don't think chrome is good enough to do anything I personally do, but I can't imagine a profitable bussiness ignoring it.

Re:Chrome OS = thin client all over again (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758368)

As it turns out, internet access isn't ubiquitous, at least not yet.

And even if it were, you'd be stupid to shackle yourself with a web browser as your ONLY way of using that internet access. To me it is a "cake or death" type decision. Given the same hardware, I can either run Linux (or WIndows XP if you're into that) and have access to apps AND a web browser. Or I can run a system that can ONLY run a web browser. Hmmm. Not really much of a choice there.

Chrome OS is an idea way too far ahead of its time.

Is it? Or is it just the wrong approach to an idea that vendors like Apple have already gotten to work? Turns out you can build a network dependent system out of native software and keep it relatively simple, reliable, and secure. And all without the harsh limitations of a web browser. Ok, so the walled garden of iPhone/iPad does present some limitations, but nothing like trying to get everything to run inside a web browser.

Right now there's no reason to ditch native software that works perfectly well.

What makes you think that will change? There are no browser technologies even on the radar that can even begin to compete with native apps in terms of functional potential. HTML5 isn't even close. HTML5 will kill Flash, if it is lucky.

Remembering (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#36756542)

Hey, remember when the iPhone first came out, and how everyone thought it was so awesome you could only write web apps?

Good times.

People don't need dumbbooks (1)

rasmusbr (2186518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36756766)

It's as if Google hasn't learned the lessons that are to be learned from the success of the Iphone and Android. Smartphones are popular because they are both easy to use and more powerful than the phones that came before them. Not just easy to use. Part of their popularity stems from that they have standalone apps that you can install. Remember how Apple claimed it didn't need apps because browser apps/websites would give you the full experience? Wrong!

People don't need dumbbooks. People need smartbooks. Basically, a professional Linux distro with a good UI and some extras on top. Ubuntu and Mint aren't getting there fast enough. Fedora isn't trying to get there. Apple is close, but they're not aiming for the sub $500 market, at least not yet (and it's not Linux and it's not free software for the most part, but that's parenthetical in the minds of most people).

Come to think of it, some people actually might want dumbbooks. I'm thinking of places that offer public computers and offices that don't do any creative work beyond writing reports and copy-pasting existing images. Maybe. But not schools, please. You'll ruin a whole generation of geeks.

Re:People don't need dumbbooks (2)

callmehank (2128210) | more than 2 years ago | (#36756980)

Doing (almost) everything on a Chromebook takes some readjustment. The idea of using cloud apps for everything is still new. As far as I can see, the phenomenon is only going to become more ubiquitous as time passes.

The machine is a lot more secure than regular laptops, and battery life is almost a full work day. It also has a nice SSH terminal, if your IDE is Vim. But if you can't live without installable software, you can always hit the developer switch, and install/use Ubuntu in dev mode.

Re:People don't need dumbbooks (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758478)

As far as I can see, the phenomenon is only going to become more ubiquitous as time passes.

It will, but it won't be limited to the web. One could say that droid and iPhone are essentially using the cloud for apps. They're just utilizing native apps AND web browser to do it. That's what Google doesn't seem to get. They think that the only way to use the "cloud" is through a web browser. When, in fact, any app can hit a web based API and exchange data. So basically you can get the best of both worlds, the power and functionality of native apps and cloud based storage for essential data.

The machine is a lot more secure than regular laptops

Of course it is secure. You can hardly do anything with it. Yay, security through severely limited functionality. Genius!

But if you can't live without installable software, you can always hit the developer switch, and install/use Ubuntu in dev mode.

Or you could just get a netbook and install whatever you want on it.

Re:People don't need dumbbooks (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#36757002)

The difference between "dumb" and "smart" being a trivially expensive hard disk, I prefer locally hosted apps and the disk.

You can do anything the "dumb" version can with a "smart" version.

Re:People don't need dumbbooks (2)

callmehank (2128210) | more than 2 years ago | (#36757340)

There is an SSD on Chromebooks, and you can download things to it. You can also access external memory cards.

Not that it matters all that much for most uses, with the availability of cloud storage anyway.

What apps can I run on a Chromebook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36756802)

I'm 12 years old and what is this? If Chrome is the only app, what is the point of this then?

Re:What apps can I run on a Chromebook? (0)

luther349 (645380) | more than 2 years ago | (#36757552)

never was a point in it. google is on this kick a netbook does everything online and its just not true. yes we do alot online these days but are apps games videos and music are for the most part stored localy.

Re:What apps can I run on a Chromebook? (2, Interesting)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758224)

I just bought a used Thinkpad R60 off of Craigslist recently that was great until I realized it only had a 60gb hdd. Then something strange happened. I realized all of my music was on Google Music, all of my Documents were in Google Docs, all of my videos were on Hulu and YouTube, I don't play games other than piddling around with ashes and all of the Roms are on dropbox so I can share with my Droid. And for that matter, my random crap is split between Dropbox, Wuala, and Ubuntu One. The only other stuff I use is Eclipse for work and the usual stuff like calculators, terminals, so on which ChromeOS could provide.

Somehow, the "cloud" snuck right on me and I feel like I'm just now waking up to the real potential of it. An example, I was in line at the post office the other day and I pulled my cell phone out and started hacking on my latest project that happens to be in dropbox. And since my eclipse workspace is mapped to my dropbox folder on all of my computers, as soon as I got to my desktop to do the real work, all I had to do was hit refresh in the idea and the changes I made at the post office were live. There's a there there.

Re:What apps can I run on a Chromebook? (1, Insightful)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758826)

When a post like this gets modded "overrated", you know the anti-google shills are on a rampage.

Writing you on my CR-48... (1)

macintard (1270416) | more than 2 years ago | (#36756878)

From ChromeOS. I only like it cause they gave it to me for free with a 100MB/month data plan. OK for the commute, but the darn thing doesn't even run Java. Saw these were going for like $500 - which is asinine.

Re:Writing you on my CR-48... (1)

luther349 (645380) | more than 2 years ago | (#36757568)

only way i would run that os is if they sent me one free. but dont trust in that eyther i would probly hack it to run a real os.

ChromeOS should be killed (2)

Dracos (107777) | more than 2 years ago | (#36756920)

It's the answer to a question no one even thought to ask.

Whatever resources Google has put into ChromeOS should be diverted to Android.

So how do I... (3, Interesting)

__Paul__ (1570) | more than 2 years ago | (#36756968)

...use this thing on a train in the middle of nowhere where there's no wireless access?

Frankly, my netbook was much cheaper, has a real operating system (Debian) and I can use it offline.

Re:So how do I... (2)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758260)

Depends on the work. Documents and many other things are cached locally so any changes you make will be synced up when you resume connectivity.

Linux Hardware Support?? (1)

nzac (1822298) | more than 2 years ago | (#36757290)

The only real questions are is the licence is cheaper than Win 7 Starter (hopefully free) and how good the the out of box Linux support is?
I guess it did bring back the SSD to netbooks.

A local media player inside a browser is just terrible. The review summary really makes it seem like CromeOS is still in alpha and not even close to feature freeze.

Re:Linux Hardware Support?? (1)

luther349 (645380) | more than 2 years ago | (#36757582)

ssd never left the netbook. its just the hdd models tend to have more space and sell better. dispite the fact the ssd wile smaller will last mutch longer.

Re:Linux Hardware Support?? (1)

callmehank (2128210) | more than 2 years ago | (#36757630)

They'll never freeze the features. Google updates the OS frequently, and you can choose an update channel to hook into from Stable to Development version. The updates are fully automated and basically foolproof. Since all your data and state info is stored in the cloud, it all gets restored after an update which is cool. It's really quite difficult to lose data. The machine is stable and usable. They're pretty careful about usability, even in developer mode.

Most of the hardware is pretty well supported for a Linux install. You can install Ubuntu but it will be using the ChromeOS Linux kernel, which seems to be kept in-sync. Since you install Linux with no swapfile, booting, shutdown and loading applications is faster. If you switch back and forth between ChomeOS and Ubuntu, OS updates to ChromeOS don't affect the partition you run Linux in.

You don't have installation disks or license keys since the OS and future updates come with the hardware. The OS just gets updated over the network and if your installation becomes corrupted for any reason, it pretty much self-repairs. The whole process is automatic and takes about 5-10 minutes over wifi.

Re:Linux Hardware Support?? (1)

nzac (1822298) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758168)

Most of the hardware is pretty well supported for a Linux install.

That's to be assumed at least with if you use a distro with a bulky kernel. What is interesting is how close to full support with negligible bugs it ends up. But if you can use the ChromeOS kernel then it should be close.

Not that i have used it but having to open up termial (or a gui) to extract a zip file (according to the review) is something that generally gets fixed before release. SSH has been cloud capable for years. It appears file associations are just not there though there not technically needed its generally a feature that goes in before the initial release testing. The summary at the end makes it seem like CromeOS is very incomplete.

You don't have installation disks or license keys since the OS and future updates come with the hardware. The OS just gets updated over the network and if your installation becomes corrupted for any reason, it pretty much self-repairs. The whole process is automatic and takes about 5-10 minutes over wifi.

Not on my wifi it wont (but that’s part of the reason I am not interested in the cloud). Redoing a small Linux install if you have a separate home partition is generally fairly painless (though is 10 to 15 min plus updates) unless you have heaps of extra packages to re-download.

Re:Linux Hardware Support?? (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758286)

I have all of my music synced with Google Music and I find the in browser media player to be quite good. Thw great thing is it frees me from having to sync my music between devices and I dont have to bloat my smartphone up with gigabytes of mp3's. And this is coming from an old winamp power user turned Amarok power user. Tell me what's wrong with the browser one?

Re:Linux Hardware Support?? (1)

nzac (1822298) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758444)

Obviously by local media player i mean one that gets its music from the 'cloud'. Because for something like a media player what’s so hard about making it native there is no good reason for it to be in the browser the API and required function should be able to stable enough that it can be done with a native application that does not need the JavaScript overhead. I guess you could settle for an indefinitely cached NaCl app but how do add 3rd party plugins work? do you download them and store them in a local folder or run a script from another site? A native application can still fetch lists from the web and display it on the screen and then request the song to play.

Re:Linux Hardware Support?? (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758792)

All I can say is that on my Acer Aspire one which is the weakest PC I have, there is no noticeable performance loss from using the in browser music player vs audacious or Amarok. And since my web browser is always open, the libraries are always loaded and the music player starts instantly unlike native players using qt and gtk Widgets which can be glacial sometimes. I have the music player set to run from a shortcut on my panel that starts it without browser chrome so you would be hard presses to realize it wasnt a native app if you didnt know better. The only issue is lack of plugins but for all i know, that may be in the pipeline.

Re:Linux Hardware Support?? (1)

nzac (1822298) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758922)

Looking at the pic of it again the player appears to be native and files added with what looks to be the chrome file browser which appears as a mix between FTP and a real file browser. Having a JavaSript player (it does not appear to use one) may not hurt the CPU to much if optimised but it defiantly chews up more memory than would be needed this may be noticeable on a 1 GB no swap system with multi tasking. Computers these days can handle music by its self with ease possibly even with JavaScript. How you design plug-in inclusion it just seems messy to have downloaded files being used for a cached app its not just a coding challenge.

And since my web browser is always open, the libraries are always loaded and the music player starts instantly unlike native players using qt and gtk Widgets which can be glacial sometimes.

If you care add it to your start-up programmes, i would assume that you could start them minimised to a tray. I guarantee that it you took a load time hit somewhere. Not to mention the reason for the slow load partly due to 'bloat' like checking to see if all your music is there before displaying it.

The eternal problem of a WebOS (3, Insightful)

brim4brim (2343300) | more than 2 years ago | (#36757438)

You need an OS powerful enough to run a web browser with multiple tabs and flash. At this stage the processor requirement is high enough to make the costs not competitive against a full featured desktop OS so your asking your users to cut off their nose to spite their face. Unfortunately the logic doesn't work, not even for dumbo the office salesmen/marketing person. They can all spot the con when they see the price tag. In order for a WebOS to take off like this is basically trying to be, you need to have a price tag of about a 100 Euro at which point, you can't provide the hardware necessary and satisfy the hardware manufacturers profit margin needs. Rock and a hard place unfortunately. Then you have the additional problems of connectivity on top of that. For the 50 Euro extra (not even in some cases). Also, the review shows tellingly that there was never a worse time to kill Google Gears for offline access since clicking your excel file can't open it in Google Docs. A clever interface with Google Gears could have made a short development time frame to get that implemented. Just looks like Google doesn't have a full realised idea here and has implemented the theoretical idea in full without trying to test it properly with user needs when the connection drops.

Re:The eternal problem of a WebOS (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758242)

At the price point, there's a few AMD C-50 and E-350 based laptops cheaper that are more capable... not sure where this fits in. I'm still waiting for the doesn't suck in SFF laptops under $300. I'd really like an E-350 10-12" under $350.

Give me the option (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36758322)

I would much rather buy a Windows or Linux laptop, and have the option of maximizing my browser window as I see fit, rather than forcing it upon me and removing the option to run native programs.

Turtles inside turtles... (2)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758340)

I see the pattern now. In another decade, Google will become passée, but the Chrome browser will have become dominant by that point. From here, the new giant corporate of that future era will build an OS *inside* the Chrome browser (itself running on Linux or Windows). A decade after that, someone will then build a browser inside of THAT.

In a couple of centuries, we will be stuck with a giant crumbling 20 layer behemoth with the top layer inheriting all of the bugs of the previous generations. "Hello World" will therefore take no less than 4000 lines of code to work around the bugs (as long as you include the 20 necessary semi-compatible 100 MB libraries), and will require numerous other kludges to implement correctly.

I like Google, maybe more than most, but let's just stop the insanity, cutting the numerous bloated layers of mess, and make the OS (which shock, doesn't need a browser to access the internet!) the base from which to build all else upon. Unnecessary layers are kludges; always have been, always will be.

Re:Turtles inside turtles... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36759554)

I think that the companies battle for ownership of the platform. Hence environments within environments.

Windows, Flash, Adobe AIR, Java, patented HTML5, video formats, et cetera. They all strive to make a sandboxes and comfort zones for us to play and preferrably not leave.

In the short perspective there is little to be gained from such, but in the long term someone may float up to the surface like Microsoft, Google, Facebok et al and dominate, and all of a sudden that piece of technology is worth billions and billions, making the long arduous journey profitable.

And as it is difficult to predict the future, they all try different approaches to see what may emerge. Proprietary communication protocols, code interpretation, and so on. It is not a conspiracy as much as it is amoeba in a petri dish trying to carve out dominance with whatever means conceivable.

Re:Turtles inside turtles... (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#36759584)

It does seem odd to me how much history repeats itself in the computer world. In the 60s, there became so many OSes and so many incompatibilities for mainframes, that IBM finally solved the problem by running everything in a VM. Then we started over again, with computers that were coded to the metal (C64, TI etc), and then OSes became such a mess, that once again we are running them in VMs. Is it an eternal pattern of computation, that as soon as you have enough power, you want to run things in VMs? I don't know.

Re:Turtles inside turtles... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36760978)

So, hang on, did you just cry 'stop the insanity' about an insane scenario that you yourself just devised?

Re:Turtles inside turtles... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36761654)

I see the pattern now. In another decade, Google will become passée, but the Chrome browser will have become dominant by that point. From here, the new giant corporate of that future era will build an OS *inside* the Chrome browser (itself running on Linux or Windows).

Yep... It's turtles all the way down, see http://bellard.org/jslinux/

yuo Fa17 It (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36758722)

prospects are Share. FrreBSD is

give me a netbook (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#36758900)

One with windows 7 or 8 or hell Ubuntu like the Dell 9 minis. They have the apps and functionalty. If I want to save power I can use an Arm with linux or windows 8 snd still watch movies. I just dont understand the chrome book? Perhaps someone who used it can enlighten me on why they are better?

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36759402)

I just bought a used Thinkpad x61s for $250. 3GB RAM, small SSD, Core 2 Duo. It runs Windows 7 64-bit absolutely flawless.

So what does a Chromebook bring to the table, really?

These have got to be *really* inexpensive to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36759770)

The only way the "chromebook" is going to take off is as a near-disposable, zero-maintenance appliance. For close to $500, people are going to expect it to work like a "real computer". But if it is positioned as a near-instant-on tool to get to the internet, it might have a chance. I'm posting this from a Dell Mini 9 with Debian, and I'd never give up a real Linux setup for ChromeOS.

Before the iPad, this might have had wider appeal. Now, I think it might only appeal to those who need to do a bit more typing than is convenient on a table, but not that much more. Maybe it will find a niche as a locked-down terminal for specific business uses. Who knows. But it doesn't seem to be catering to an existing demand.

Border Scrutiny? (1)

sl149q (1537343) | more than 2 years ago | (#36759812)

I wonder what happens when you enter the US with a Chromebook?

Currently it appears that custom agents can seize and search your laptop, possibly even force you to divulge passwords to encrypted files. [We're waiting for this to hit the US Supreme Court... it will eventually.]

With a Chromebook nothing is on the laptop. Its all in the cloud. You are not importing anything other than a bunch of wires and transistors (very very tiny ones...)

And your data is in the clouds, who knows (well maybe your cloud provider) where in the world it is actually stored. In the US? Somewhere else?

So now instead of forcing you to divulge keys; the question is can they force you to divulge your credentials? And possibly with judicious use of two-factor authentication you may not even be able to provide that (usb key, destroy as you leave the plane..., replacement comes from outside of the country, can't be forced with a court order, etc etc.)

Yes the data may be obtainable directly IFF they can prove probable cause etc (and the cloud provider is in an amenable jurisdiction). But currently crossing the border the data actually on a laptop (or phone) is subject to the whim of the border agent.

Apple's iCloud may actually be the first usable instance of this. Reset your phone to factory default. Go through customs. Re-provision via the cloud as you sit in the back of the taxi going home.

I am confused (1)

Tei (520358) | more than 2 years ago | (#36759900)

I am confused by the notion that this thing is a netbook. And the comment about having a poor file manager. My iPad do 90% of the things I want from a computer, and don't even have a file manager. Why a good Web OS have a filemanager? Is because this thing is a netbook, and not a tablet pc?

Most of the ./ comments seems offtopic of weak. Ahead of his time, need constant conection. I already know, everybody knows. But you know what? my iPad (sorry to tell you again about it) is also ahead of his time by maybe 10 or 15 years, and is useful.

I feel I must discart TFA and all ./ comments has none I have read here is informative.

google docs is just not there (1)

rottenSoul (900240) | more than 2 years ago | (#36759916)

I've tried the web apps for both word and excel on google and the functionality seems lacking

Spreadsheets wrap in columns by default and there's no way to span columns. The word processor doesnt support any kind of labels templates or layouts I could see.

Maybe I hit the missing functions each time, but the apps do seem antiquated right now

My mum has one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36760210)

It's her first computer and she loves it, and I love the fact that I don't have to explain windows updates, UAC prompts, anti-virus, malware, file management or any of the other windows standard bits. Just turn it on, type the password and there's a web browser which she already knows how to use. It's super fast as well.

I was going to get one for myself but decided against it pretty much for the reasons that people have mentioned above but there are plenty of people that I'd recommend one to, including all of the people I've helped with malware infected systems that really only wanted to get online anyway.

Tie to Google Account!?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36761564)

"If you don't have a Google account, however, or don't want to use your main account, you must sign up for a new one. Chrome OS won't function unless you're logged into Google's servers. How you feel about the privacy implications of this may play a large role in how you feel about the Chromebook experience."

Oouch that's a very bad idea. You won't be able to use 3rd-party's, your company's, or your own server.

This is just to make sure the project stays alive. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36761930)

Google does not HAVE to make this work now. There will come a time when an internet-based OS is a viable, even the preferred, alternative to other OSs. And when that time comes, ChromeOS will probably have a decade's head start over other OSs.

Android's the cool thing now, but the future may very well belong to ChromeOS.

CR-48 owner's impressions (1)

jbarr (2233) | more than 2 years ago | (#36762010)

As an owner and user of Google's CR-48, I have to say that I am very unimpressed by the prices of these new Chromebooks. The Chromebook concept is solid--I've used my CR-48 in many scenarios, and I find it to be exceptionally useful. The instant-on feature and its overall light weight makes it a dream to use and tote around.

That said, they dropped the ball on pricing.

Had Google priced it in the $199-$299 range, I'd definitely consider one.

Had Google included reasonable free 3G access (say 1 or 2GB per month instead of the 100MB per month) for the $500 price tag, I'd definitely consider one.

At $500, I'd just as soon purchase a "real" laptop.

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